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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 8 Apr 2012
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Heidelberg to Provence Advice

I leave for Europe Mid May this year, and start in Germany, Heidelberg to pick up my bike at Stefan Knopfs. I will be riding for two months.

I thought to start by heading south to get warm, and to see the Provence area, before heading farther South to Spain. I would appreciate any advice on a route to the south that maximizes scenery, interesting towns, good food. I will be riding my BMW R1200GSA solo and loaded for camping, but don't mind a reasonably priced room too. I don't want to spend much/any time on auto-routes, I am not in a rush, have no real schedule, and can adjust plans as needed. I would like to get to Le Mans for the 24 hour race

I plan to do Alps later in the trip when it warms up (early July). I hope that's enough information to get started. All input welcome.
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Old 8 Apr 2012
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Couple of weeks later (beginning of June) you could attend the spring German HU meeting which is only 30 or so miles north of Heidelberg.
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Old 8 Apr 2012
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^^Yes, I am thinking of attending the UK meeting in July.
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Old 8 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrick View Post
I thought to start by heading south to get warm, and to see the Provence area, before heading farther South to Spain. I would appreciate any advice on a route to the south that maximizes scenery, interesting towns, good food.
Just take the Routes Nationales to the Provence instead of the highway (which you have to pay dearly for) and you´ll be fine, in the midst of France. Beware of thieves at every friggin´ corner, though, and chain your bike to whatever is immovable. We went to Southern France for more than 10 years around April / May, which means zero tourism, and we have never come back without one of the group having "lost" a car, the contents of a motorhome, a surfboard or else.


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Old 8 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=lhendrick;374502]I leave for Europe Mid May this year, and start in Germany, Heidelberg to pick up my bike at Stefan Knopfs. I will be riding for two months.

I thought to start by heading south to get warm, and to see the Provence area, before heading farther South to Spain. I would appreciate any advice on a route to the south that maximizes scenery, interesting towns, good food. I will be riding my BMW R1200GSA solo and loaded for camping, but don't mind a reasonably priced room too. I don't want to spend much/any time on auto-routes, I am not in a rush, have no real schedule, and can adjust plans as needed. I would like to get to Le Mans for the 24 hour race

I plan to do Alps later in the trip when it warms up (early July).
[QUOTE]

To name one idea, check the Pont du Gard if you want to see great Roman architecture in the south of France.
Also the centre of Nimes, which has a Roman amphitheatre, but, in general, I tend to stay out of the big cities.
Get there via the Black Forest of Germany.

For more scenery, ride via the Vercors region which is one of the great French national parks.

A lot of the hotel chains are pretty good value = Accor, Campanile to name two French companies "with branches everywhere". Many of these have secure parking areas with locked gates at night, which ties in with the remarks above about criminal gangs operating in tourist areas; as ever, they are usually from East Europe and they operate with impunity (perhaps because of the open borders, "shengen", agreement).
There are also Logis hotels which are privately owned and marketed, to some extent, centrally to compete.
For cheap rooms consider F1 hotels:- Formule 1 which can be had for not much more than the cost of a camping pitch. In fact, if you happened to be sharing with one or more persons then F1 are cheaper/person.
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  #6  
Old 8 Apr 2012
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Provence

The Route Napoleon, from Grenoble to Cannes (Nice), is a pretty drive and I'm sure a motorcyclist would enjoy its many curves.

Either on the R.N., or just off it, is the Gorge du Verdon and that's well worth a visit, too.
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Old 9 Apr 2012
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Thank you all for your helpful advice. It is just what I was looking for in routes. I didn't realize theft was such a problem. I will bring a lock/chain and pacsafe for loose gear. I have three aluminum adventure cases to lock my goods in, and may try to get all my gear in those, and have no loose bags to pilfer. Valuables are in tank bag which comes off and is carried in with me when stopped. Hoping this is enough and don't want to spoil the trip worrying always.

Thanks DickyBeach, Keks and Walkabout for the specifics.

Larry
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Old 9 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrick View Post
^^Yes, I am thinking of attending the UK meeting in July.
Larry.... I was not talking about the UK meeting which is very large - I was referreng to the much smaller German meeting in Germany at the beginning of June (7th)
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Old 9 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=Walkabout;374543][QUOTE=lhendrick;374502]I leave for Europe Mid May this year, and start in Germany, Heidelberg to pick up my bike at Stefan Knopfs. I will be riding for two months.

I thought to start by heading south to get warm, and to see the Provence area, before heading farther South to Spain. I would appreciate any advice on a route to the south that maximizes scenery, interesting towns, good food. I will be riding my BMW R1200GSA solo and loaded for camping, but don't mind a reasonably priced room too. I don't want to spend much/any time on auto-routes, I am not in a rush, have no real schedule, and can adjust plans as needed. I would like to get to Le Mans for the 24 hour race

I plan to do Alps later in the trip when it warms up (early July).
Quote:

To name one idea, check the Pont du Gard if you want to see great Roman architecture in the south of France.
Also the centre of Nimes, which has a Roman amphitheatre, but, in general, I tend to stay out of the big cities.
Get there via the Black Forest of Germany.

For more scenery, ride via the Vercors region which is one of the great French national parks.

A lot of the hotel chains are pretty good value = Accor, Campanile to name two French companies "with branches everywhere". Many of these have secure parking areas with locked gates at night, which ties in with the remarks above about criminal gangs operating in tourist areas; as ever, they are usually from East Europe and they operate with impunity (perhaps because of the open borders, "shengen", agreement).
There are also Logis hotels which are privately owned and marketed, to some extent, centrally to compete.
For cheap rooms consider F1 hotels:- Formule 1 which can be had for not much more than the cost of a camping pitch. In fact, if you happened to be sharing with one or more persons then F1 are cheaper/person.
+1 for Massif du Vercors, it's an amazing place. 1st to come to my mind. Visit the Grottes de Choranche in there, with "spaghetti stalagmites". I uploaded a map with a nice tour there.

I'd cross the French-Spanish border following the coast line, starting for instance in Collioure until Port De la Selva, then to Cadaqués. You could visit Dali's house in Port Lligat and Cap de Creus national park. Really nice.

For cheap accomodation in the chains mentionned by Walkabout, starting by the cheapest: Formule 1 (shared bathroom), Première Classe (private), B&B, Campanile... (all in France). Get a booklet with all the hotels of the desired chain. Copious buffet breakfast starting very early, ca. 6€.

Happy travels,

Esteban
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Old 9 Apr 2012
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In southern France the circuit around the Gorge du Verdon and further west the Gorge du Tarn are magnificent places. Before crossing the Pyrenees to Spain check out the old town of Carcasonne. Wonderfully medieval !

Most of central Spain is very scenic, but my favourite is Andalucia. In the northern parts the pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela is nice. Some beautiful old towns like Burgos, Leo and Santiago (cathedral). Last not least the Picos de Europa.

When returning to visit the Alps, one of the greatest tours is along the "Route des Grandes Alpes" is an absolute "must". You can find lots of information in the internet on this route. It takes you over all the major mountain passes of the French Alps. Very impressive!

Enjoy!
Hans
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Old 9 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by Vaufi View Post
Before crossing the Pyrenees to Spain check out the old town of Carcasonne. Wonderfully medieval !
Hans
Beautiful country roads from there towards (shopping in) Andorra, the one and only motorcycle outlet sovereign State

Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos in Andalucia, it'll be beautiful and hot!
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by strimstrum View Post
Larry.... I was not talking about the UK meeting which is very large - I was referreng to the much smaller German meeting in Germany at the beginning of June (7th)
Yes, thanks, I got that, but will be far to the south by the 7th of June, so thought to wait for the UK meeting as I will head up there later in the trip. Thanks for the tip.
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  #13  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=estebangc;374613][QUOTE=Walkabout;374543]
Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrick View Post
I leave for Europe Mid May this year, and start in Germany, Heidelberg to pick up my bike at Stefan Knopfs. I will be riding for two months.

I thought to start by heading south to get warm, and to see the Provence area, before heading farther South to Spain. I would appreciate any advice on a route to the south that maximizes scenery, interesting towns, good food. I will be riding my BMW R1200GSA solo and loaded for camping, but don't mind a reasonably priced room too. I don't want to spend much/any time on auto-routes, I am not in a rush, have no real schedule, and can adjust plans as needed. I would like to get to Le Mans for the 24 hour race

I plan to do Alps later in the trip when it warms up (early July).


+1 for Massif du Vercors, it's an amazing place. 1st to come to my mind. Visit the Grottes de Choranche in there, with "spaghetti stalagmites". I uploaded a map with a nice tour there.

I'd cross the French-Spanish border following the coast line, starting for instance in Collioure until Port De la Selva, then to Cadaqués. You could visit Dali's house in Port Lligat and Cap de Creus national park. Really nice.

For cheap accomodation in the chains mentionned by Walkabout, starting by the cheapest: Formule 1 (shared bathroom), Première Classe (private), B&B, Campanile... (all in France). Get a booklet with all the hotels of the desired chain. Copious buffet breakfast starting very early, ca. 6€.

Happy travels,

Esteban
Thanks Esteban, I was looking forward to seeing the Dali house, and the coastal crossing of the France/Spain border is a great idea that I will add to my ever growing Mapsource plot.
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  #14  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=lhendrick;374741][QUOTE=estebangc;374613]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post

Thanks Esteban, I was looking forward to seeing the Dali house, and the coastal crossing of the France/Spain border is a great idea that I will add to my ever growing Mapsource plot.
You can go south following the coast, but don't miss the crossing the Pyrenees towards Carcassonne, as Vaufi suggested (great area).

If interested in Dali, you have the Dali Museum in Figueres, which is not far.
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Old 10 Apr 2012
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[QUOTE=lhendrick;374741][QUOTE=estebangc;374613]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post

Thanks Esteban, I was looking forward to seeing the Dali house, and the coastal crossing of the France/Spain border is a great idea that I will add to my ever growing Mapsource plot.
I have based myself in that area on the French side of the border, a few years ago, and travelled around it for a couple of weeks; with all these ideas you would best look at a map for more detail.

The coastal area on the border of France/Spain (Mediterranean side): flat and sandy plage on the French side, all the way to Perpignon. On the Spanish side of the border it changes to a more interesting rocky coast (Banyuls, Colliere etc) with small, sandy coves, and far more twisties. The main highway near the coast that crosses that border is relatively uninteresting for riding (like most major roads), whereas the border crossings further inland take in the Pyrenees, including the ski resort areas.
Basically, it all comes down to how long you have and how much you want see in any particular area.
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